BEAUFORT, CARTERET COUNTY - Commercial fishing generates more than 3,000 jobs and $50 million in income in our state each year, but local fishermen say it's getting harder to make a living on the water. Now a grassroots effort is being made to fix the problems they frequently face.
The effort is being led by commercial fisherman Chris McCaffity.
"We can't change the reality of what we have we just need to offer positive solutions right now," says McCaffity.
His website is here. McCaffity says the point of the movement is to find easy ways to improve water quality and waste in the waters. Speaker of the NC House Thom Tillis says fishermen need to come up with some alternatives to bills that would deny consumers access to local seafood.
One idea to help water quality would be to issue "No Spray Days," advisories which would tell farmers when heavy rain is on the way and they shouldn't use chemicals in their fields.
"One of the things we talked about is trying to get it so people recognize there's going to be heavy rain in the next day or so so maybe they shouldn't put down pesticides and fertilizers until after the rain so they have a chance to soak in good, and not run into our waters," says McCaffity.
Another idea the fisherman have would be to change the rules requiring them to throw back fish when they are out of season. McCaffity says several fish that are illegally caught are immediately thrown back but don't survive.
Instead of watching these fish die behind the boat, McCaffity says it would be better for fishermen to keep the catch, claim it and count it towards their yearly quota. The ideas is that quotas in multi-species fisheries would be legal at the same time, but the in-season fish would be given a higher quota, so the incentive is still to target fish that are "in season."
McCaffity has been working with local legislators to implement these ideas. He says without public support, it will not be possible to create change.
"Most people want to help the environment, this is a very simple way to protect the environment that doesn't take much effort at all," says McCaffity.
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